Garcia, Morales grab Thunderbird leads
Jorge Garcia and Nicole Morales seem to agree that the AJGA Thunderbird International Junior is one of the finest tournaments they’ve played in.
“It’s a perfect golf course,” Garcia said. “It’s a really tight course and the ball flies a little more, but you can see what the problem is in every hole.”
Garcia, ranked No. 11 in the Golfweek/Sagarin Junior rankings, is doing remarkably well for his first-ever Thunderbird appearance. The 17-year-old fired off his second consecutive 68, taking a three-shot lead over Sam Burns at the Grayhawk Golf Club in Scottsdale, Ariz.
“I didn’t play as well as I did yesterday, but I managed to shoot 68 which is a pretty good round,” Garcia said. “I’m confident about my game right now.”
Over on the girls side, Morales is looking forward to forgetting last year’s Thunderbird, where she shot 12-over 228 and tied for twenty-second.
“I didn’t do well last year.” the 16-year-old said. “I wasn’t used to the elevation and the fact that it’s so hot. My yardages were very iffy last year.”
The New York resident, ranked No. 6 in the Junior rankings, says that her yardages this year have been spot-on.
“I started out bogey, bogey, par, birdie, double,” Morales said. “It was an interesting start, [but] I was able to grind it out and make some really clutch putts on the back nine.”
“It’s been a physical grind and a mental grind.”
Dwelling on her mistakes, Morales says, was her downfall last year. Her focus for Monday’s round is to control her emotions, be smart about her decisions and just enjoy the atmosphere in Scottsdale.
“Even if you don’t play well, you take those memories home with you and cherish those,” Morales said. “A tournament as well-run as Thunderbird is hard to come by.”